Originally posted on May 7, 2021 @ 12:03 PM
Courting Infallibility in Safety
One of the best questions one can ask of anyone spruiking zero is: please tell me what will happen tomorrow? Or perhaps next week?
Of course they can’t, no one can. Such is the beauty of fallibility
Just imagine how dreadful life would be if we had insight for even one day into the future? If you knew what was happening tomorrow, would you take the same risk today? Of course not, and so life would stop. If this were a reality, all risk would be no longer risk. Risk would no longer make sense (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/risk-makes-sense/). To imagine a life without risk is to imagine a life without learning. Then imagine a life with no imagination if so, all curiosity would be gone because imagination too it contingent on risk. However, if you are in the zero cult, all risk is the enemy. The only way to achieve zero is to eliminate fallibility and hence all risk.
However, in safety when people speak in hindsight bias (https://safetyrisk.net/history-and-hindsight-in-safety/ ), they speak as if the outcome of risk is foreseeable. Just listen to the language as safety people reflect on accidents and apparently risks are foreseeable, which of course makes them no longer risks. Often you light even hear the nonsense myth of ‘common sense’ paraded, that other mythical symbol of safety unreality (https://safetyrisk.net/standing-on-the-myths-of-safety/ ).
The addiction to hindsight bias is also the delusional language of ‘predictive analytics’ (https://seleritysas.com/blog/2019/03/04/workplace-injuries-predictive-data-analytics/ ). The language of ‘predictive analytics’ conveniently omits to discuss the fact that all data is interpreted, hmmm, by a fallible person. When will Safety learn to work with the fundamentals of human fallibility? Why does Safety continue to talk nonsense language to people (https://safetyrisk.net/believe-the-impossible-and-speak-nonsense-to-people / ) as if the future is foreseeable?
Fallibility is a beautiful thing not an evil. All of the experiences we enjoy in life are contingent on fallibility, the quest for perfection is the end of the beauty of humanity. Of course in the zero cult, ‘fallible’ is the taboo word (https://safetyrisk.net/please-dont-use-the-f-word-in-safety/ ). If you want to undo the nonsense speak of zero just use the ‘f’ word.
The gifts of fallibility are the gifts of surprise and curiosity. We can be just as much be surprised by joy as adversity. If we seek the elimination of adversity and its cause (risk) we also seek the elimination of joy. Such is the paradox of fallibility.
When one enters law and the court one learns very quickly that neither the law nor regulation expect zero indeed, the idea of As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) acknowledges fallibility and the limits of human decision making. If you want to look like a total fool in court just suggest that ‘all accidents are preventable’ or ‘safety is a choice you make’. The court would erupt in laughter because both nonsense sayings just cooked your goose. The reason why you are standing in court is because both statements are false and zero is nonsense. The reason why the court rarely throws someone into gaol for a WHS infringement for a fatality, is because the law and regulation understand fallibility. It is impossible to be a professional and deny fallibility yet, this is the global mantra for safety.
When one enters the court many contingencies are taken in to hand. It is always a curious thing to hear safety people project simplistic judgments on the law in the face of an incident, when this is not how Law thinks. How funny to hear so called safety experts pass amateur judgement on the WHS Act and Regulation when they will never appear in court casting judgement on the interpretation of the Act. This is why Greg Smith and I made the video series Risky Conversations
2. What Is Risk? from Human Dymensions on Vimeo.
Anyone in safety who thinks zero is possible is light years away from the fundamental thinking of a WHS lawyer. You can also read the transcripts of the video series here: https://www.humandymensions.com/product/risky-conversations/ or the free talking book series here: https://spor.com.au/podcasts/risky-conversations-talking-book/
How strange this safety industry anchored globally to the cult of zero, even the spiritualisation of zero (https://safetyrisk.net/the-spirit-of-zero/) that stands in complete opposition to the fundamental reality of the Law. Perhaps ask your peak body in Australia why they acknowledge the zero cult and why they will be hooked into the cult in May 2021? (https://visionzero.global/vision-zero-safety-future-congress); https://www.visionzerosummit.com/). Then ask them if they also acknowledge fallibility. Therein is the pickle and from thereon the gobbledygook speak starts.
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